Hammer toes are a deformity of the second, third or fourth toe. The middle joint starts to bend downward so the toe becomes clenched or claw-like. Painful calluses may form on the top of the joint as well. Wearing tight or too-small shoes can also aggravate the condition, says McAloon. Hammer toes can occur at any age but tend to get worse as we get older -- and if a family member had them, you may develop them, too. To get relief, try wearing roomy shoes with a wide toe box. Surgery to correct this problem is also an option in some cases.